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AFT Visits Wolfe Street Academy

Community schools provide wrap-around services that help close the gap between students' needs and their ability to focus on school and learning. Baltimore is fortunate to have a number of community schools that serve students and families as well as the communities the schools are in. One of those schools is Wolfe Street Academy, a school that went from a low-ranking status several years ago to top-ranking, going remarkably from the 77th rank elementary school to the 2nd in the span of a decade. The school was the site of a visit from AFT President Randi Weingarten. She was joined on the visit by AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell and Baltimore Teachers Union President Diamonté Brown.

The leaders were greeted by BTU Building Representative and Wolfe Street Academy teacher Katrina Kickbush along with principal Mark Gaither who were pleased to welcome the union contingency to their school and discuss the ways the community school model has had an impact on the southeast Baltimore community. AFT-Maryland President Kenya Campbell called the visit important because of the presence of all three leaders. “It’s significant that we have the national president, the state federation president, and the local president all here together because it demonstrates the power of the AFT as an institution and shows members how the local, state, and national collaborate to ensure they have the resources they need to serve   students, families, and community.”

Randi Weingarten was grateful to be amongst Maryland AFT union leaders as she referenced the respective state federation and local presidents as “Sister Campbell” and “Sister Brown”. Beyond that, Weingarten remarked on the union leadership visiting a school that is successful and a place that “parents want to send their kids, educators want to work, that kids thrive… Wolfe [Street] is not an easy neighborhood. We’ve got lots of challenges here and this is a school that meets those challenges.” Meeting the challenge is something that faculty and staff of Wolfe Street Academy do day in and day out. Supporting that work is a source of pride for BTU president Diamonté Brown. She was ecstatic that all three leaders could come together to support community schools and “to acknowledge the work many of our community schools have already done.” President Brown also observed the spotlight on Wolfe Street Academy and community schools in Baltimore as “a great acknowledgement of the work that many of [her] predecessors have already done to pave the way for us to have the community schools we have today.”

Leadership at the school recognizes the important relationship between the faculty & staff, and administration that allows students at Wolfe Street Academy to be successful. Principal Mark Gaither called the relationship “one of the most important” saying, “it allows us to get the job done and what we have to show here is through and through what kids need… and that’s what we all fundamentally want. We want to feel that we are able to affect those around us in positive ways”. BTU Building Representative and teacher Katrina Kickbush appreciated seeing the leaders visit her school and develop an intimate familiarity with the work she and her colleagues do on a daily basis. “So often I feel like some of the people in a higher position that we work with or that have helped us are kind of at a distance. You see pictures, you see them on tv, you see clips of them. It really meant a lot to see the people… on the front lines with us, in our building, walking the halls, meeting our teachers, meeting our paras, meeting our custodians. They are the ones that really have a voice in making policy change.”

Watch more of the visit on YouTube at:



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